Exoskeletons and Ergonomic Safety within the Construction Industry: An exploratory study of the usage of heavy handheld machines

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Examensarbete för masterexamen
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2022
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Rosén, Alexandra
Rosenquist, Isabella
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The construction industry is characterized by the usage of heavy machines and challenging physical work. With an increasing awareness about workplace ergonomics, the demand for safe and user-friendly equipment is growing. Husqvarna Construction is a company offering machines for the construction industry and is currently investigating how they could contribute to a more ergonomic usage of two of their heavy handheld machines, the core drilling machine and the power cutter. This thesis explores how ergonomic aids and exoskeletons could be designed to contribute to a more ergonomic work situation for construction workers. Further, the project aims at investigating what attitudes construction workers have toward ergonomic aids and exoskeletons. To achieve this, user studies with the intended user group as well as literature study of work-related musculoskeletal disorders within the construction industry have been conducted. This resulted in an analysis of user needs and a compilation of guidelines for the future development of an ergonomic aid. In this thesis, it could be concluded that a construction worker’s user needs are complex. There is a clear need for an ergonomic aid but the attitudes towards these devices within this user group are challenging. The results also showed that an ergonomic product for the lower back could benefit this user group the most and that a back-supporting exoskeleton could reach a high user acceptance if it is customized to this specific target group. However, further investigation of the long-term usage of an exoskeleton in an actual industry setting is needed before concluding on whether an exoskeleton could provide an increased ergonomic safety or not for users of heavy handheld machines.
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Exoskeletons, ergonomic safety, heavy handheld machines, construction industry
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